Protesters drag mayor through town, forcibly cut her hair

The mayor of the Bolivian town of Vinto, Patricia Arce, speaks to the press as she is being humiliated by a mob of opposition supporters who forcibly cut her hair and covered her in paint. [AFP]
Bolivia's President Evo Morales condemned Thursday an attack on a female mayor in which an opposition mob forcibly cut her hair, covered her in paint and marched her barefoot through the streets.

Bolivia has been rocked by deadly post-election violence over opposition claims that Morales rigged his re-election last month.

A 20-year-old student died in clashes Wednesday between pro- and anti-government demonstrators in the central city of Cochabamba, bringing the overall toll to three dead since the October 20 election.

In nearby Vinto, an opposition mob stormed the municipal headquarters and dragged the mayor, Patricia Arce, into the street before setting the building ablaze.

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Morales said in a tweet Thursday that Arce -- a member of his ruling Movement for Socialism (MAS) party -- had been "cruelly abducted for expressing and defending her ideals and the principles of the poorest."

Television images showed her on the ground, her hair cut, and covered in red paint. She was dragged and forced to walk barefoot through the town by the mob, before being rescued by police on motorcycles.

Morales' party demanded the police bring the perpetrators to justice.

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Arce's office told local media Thursday the mayor "is recovering" from her ordeal.

"For these people, being a woman is a crime, being humble is a crime, having a skirt is a crime, said Vice President Alvaro Garcia.

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"This has never happened in our democracy. That is called fascism: attacking women, assaulting them for their ethnic status. What Bolivia is facing is a fascist wave."

The Women's Social Organizations, linked to the ruling party, expressed "outrage" at the attack, and "for all the insults of hatred, racism, discrimination and violence" of the opposition.

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